05/26/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
In a 1964 oral-history interview, Barbara Gamarekian, an assistant to John F. Kennedy's press secretary Pierre Salinger, speculated that JFK had a liaison with an unpaid summer intern—an 18-or 19-year-old college student named Mimi. Gamarekian had the transcript sealed but confided some details to Robert Dallek, author of the new An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 (review on page 48). On April 24 the John F. Kennedy Library released 17 pages of the original interview given by Gamarekian, 77, a retired reporter. "Having a tryst with a 19-year-old doesn't speak all that well of [JFK's] judgment," says Dallek, "but it does speak to the difference of the media in his day. The media of the 1960s was not going to reveal these personal tangles of his sex life. The media today is very different."
He was a terribly attractive man. Most women found that if he smiled in their direction or said something that even indicated that he was personally aware of the fact they had a name and they were an individual, it set you up for the next week or two.
Gamarekian got a sense of JFK's relationship with Mimi while at the American Embassy in Dublin in 1963.
[Presidential aide] Dave Powers came up to Pierre and told him the President was just furious! He (the President) had gotten a call from Mimi...who had been left back in the United States, was in tears...because the older woman in our office, Helen Gans, had not permitted her to have that Friday off, and that if the President were back in Washington, Dave said, Helen Gans would be fired this very instant. Well, obviously [Mimi] did have sort of a special relationship...To get through directly to the President...was a little unusual.
Mimi's presence did not go unnoticed.
A girl wasn't in the office very long before the press began to ask why she was there...because Mimi had no skills. She couldn't type.... but Mimi, who obviously couldn't perform any function at all, made all the trips!
One was to Nassau, where Salinger and another aide glimpsed the top of a small head in one of the cars in JFK's entourage.
They thought there was a little child sitting in the front seat...They walked over and looked in, and here seated on the floor was Mimi...so she wouldn't be seen by anyone. She'd been there [in Nassau] apparently for several days.
It was kind of a big joke. Everyone knew about it.... He must have felt...there was no possibility that this would ever hit print.